Enlightening the Passions – Day 4 (Powerlessness)

Powerlessness, limitations, the powers of those and that beyond me… this day was filled with intimate encounters with that very feeling.

But first I need to touch on some considerations that have come up in me regarding this exploration as a whole.
It’s next to impossible to separate feelings, the essential emotions that I’m exploring in this experiment, from basic story lines or concepts. Anger in and as itself really is “just an energy”, to quote a teacher I used to be with for a long, long time, that one cannot say anything about, for instance, if it has purpose, direction or whatever, without the use of concepts. Actually outside of symbols, ideas, language, concepts there is no such feeling as anger; there is actually no feelings and thoughts and bodies and things and energies – there is really not anything and not nothing; and most of all there is no difference, no differentiation and thus no communication except maybe a very general, boundless flowingness – and even saying that is already using concepts.
Anybody wanting to disagree with this can only do so by using the medium of communication and its accompanying concepts (or kiss or smack me, of course) – and she can only disagree because she can follow what I write here using her own concepts and sentences with subjects and objects (and all the other stuff)…

I mention this here because of its role that I saw very clearly saw this morning as I was starting my day (after a good cuddle and sweetness) with opening myself up to my awareness meandering and focusing in on one of the top 7 – 10 feelings. And as you can see from the first lines of this post, I landed with what looks presently to be a very likely candidate for the number 1 on my list of uncomfortable feelings: Powerlessness.
Once this was clear – and it took a few moments before I got an uncanny sense of certainty that, when it appears, clarifies the way for me – I needed to keep invoking it because the tendency to drift away, to dream off, to land in an internal mist that diffuses everything was very strong. So like I have been doing in my morning meanderings in the days before with the other feelings that then I explored, I invoked powerlessness again and again by remembering situations and (self)images from situations in which I felt utterly powerless, moving from the present into the past to uncover the many aspects of this.

The powerless anger I was mentioning yesterday is a most prominent member of this family of feelings, but this feeling has a very important brother (or is it a sister?) in powerless fear and sister (or is it brother?) in powerless grief.
“Today is the day of a family reunion of family Powerlessness,” I thought. And since it was hard to focus, or hard to stay in this company, I used a focusing question, repeating it again and again when I found I had drifted off, “How do I feel when I have no power at all?” When I am at the mercy of whoever happens to be in power, whoever has the upper hand. O, and I know how I feel! By God! Put anger, fear and grief in a pot, stir it well and spice with a sense of guilt and suffocation…

As I was exploring the traces of this feeling, it’s signature – what makes it so strong that I try in so many ways to avoid it – I saw that it is in a way the ‘flip side’ of surrender. To be powerless means “to be forced to surrender” – other than ‘being surrendered’ which just happens and is beyond one’s control to begin with, and happens ‘out of the blue’; being forced to surrender, historically and evolutionary is a man’s nightmare, and in my life something that happened when I was very young and many times after. Not only did I have to surrender what I wanted, but I also had to give up what I sorely needed, loving attention and whatever else a child needs from his parents or the grown ups that are to take care of him, and really don’t.

So what I learnt was suffocating powerlessness, burning powerlessness, sad-sad powerlessness, unreasonable powerlessness, and many other shades of forced surrender – and how to shield myself against actually feeling this, how to create imaginations and imagi-notions that made me feel powerful and influential again, how to manipulate at least my perception in such a way that I did not need to feel powerless. And, you might imagine, there is not much breathing in there!

So then allowing and breathing with powerlessness I felt limits solve, I felt flow happen in deep regions out of sight, I felt a sense of relief touch me deeply. And I think, “Yes, sometimes surrender is forced, or maybe even often, but do I therefor need to struggle, fight and cause a terribly time for me and/or my surround? Do I need an escape? Do I need in some way to do away with this feeling? What for? Does it change thereby? (No, it doesn’t.)”

And all day long little – and in the evening a bigger – matters appeared that kindled that feeling and, as much as was in me, I abided by the family Powerlessness that was called to be with me that moment.
And I wasn’t really amazed at all taht, as the day was almost done, I was confronted with a situation that showed my powerlessness in full bloom, and it was not too hard anymore to just be with it and have no blame for anyone, including me. And for moments I could even embrace it…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 3 (Powerless Anger)

Today was challenging – yes indeed.
Maybe because I took another close look at “powerless anger” (ohnmächtige Wut), and maybe also because a major triggering event recurred today in my relationship. Maybe also because I experienced strong waves of (unfulfilled) desire, and maybe because all of this came on strong together.
What’s clear is that the stories around these challenging waves are basically legitimate, and that this very legitimacy in turn fuels the feelings. When I feel that, for instance, my anger is righteous or just (that it is right to want to do away with the cause), than that is not very helpful in supporting me to embrace the feeling but rather it pushes me to do something about the cause and thereby ‘resolve’ the feeling. The conviction that my feeling is “right” or appropriate or justified exaggerates and escalates me “doing something about it” rather than “being with it”. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not in keeping with what I’ve decided to find out: “Are feelings soul-food; do they enliven my being-flow with life if embraced unconditionally?”

Obviously there’s a a distinction to be made here. As much as it is legitimate to want to change the situation that triggers the feeling, attempting to change the situation being fueled by the very feeling that was ignited by the situation – for instance anger – is most probably counter-productive. And if, sticking to the example of anger here, if I’m doing something out of or with anger than I will most likely awaken or fuel the anger of the person(s) within this situation, and thereby I will indeed change it, but it will be a change to the worse.
Reaction breeds counter-reaction in an escalating cycle in which all participants tend to loose; and even if one wins in the short run, one will loose in the long run, because the looser will want to somehow ‘even the score’.
So if we take the anger kindled by a socially unjust situation to propel us into action, this will be a reaction and most likely cause nothing but trouble and no lasting or sutainable, positive change. However, this is not an article of faith but a hypothesis that seems to be true on the more individual social level, within my personal relationships, for instance.

It was utterly clear a couple of times today, that reaction – which for human beings seems to be always fueled by ‘unenlightened feelings’ – has recognizable consequences: loss of consciousness, loss of happiness or satisfaction, loss of a sense of roundness with oneself and the environment.
This is obvious, and I guess I’ve known it all along – and to know this is almost a commonplace in the culture I live in – but it is one thing to know this, another thing to reflect on it, and still much of another thing actually experiencing it within the flow of ones sense of aliveness (which feels spacious, dynamic, ‘full of air’, deep, bubbling, beautiful etc.). To react is to loose clarity, energy, aliveness – to respond keeps me connected with the life-flow of the situation. And real responses seem to be called forth from this mysterious what-shall-we-call-it…

So in my mornings contemplation, guess what?, my mind and heart and belly meandered around powerless anger; I saw that this feeling is like a partial paralysis that stops me as soon as anger lashes out; the anger is paralyzed the moment it appears. I could also say it’s an automatic and immediate attempt to smother and suffocate it.
In these meanderings some scenes from my youth appeared – suggesting that in certain situations where I had to stop my anger this proved to be the most adequate manner. But I didn’t dwell on this as my experiment is not about finding out the stories that go with or even justify my feelings (and very plausibly so, psychotherapy is full of this); rather my experiment is about embracing feelings, it is about being with the feelings that are part of my melody unconditionally.

Exploring powerless anger this way I noticed that, like with the feeling I explored yesterday, it also is taking my breath away. The suffocation is to be taken as much more than a figure of speech.
Then the question appeared, “Do my feelings stay if I breathe deeper when being with them?” So I breathed with it, allowing, inviting the feeling to flourish, to dance its dance inside me and sigh and breathe deeply. And far from disappearing the powerless anger felt “rich”, more rounded, as if it started flowing… for a while it was even beautiful. As if the breathing with it enabled me to feel it more compassionately; it gives a more encompassing meaning to the statement, “I embrace my powerless anger.”

And during the day, especially around midday wave upon wave of desire washed over me. This seems to suggest that I wasn’t involved in it; actually the desire and my thoughts formed, at times, a escalating system in which “I” participated by not allowing it to simply be. Desire was burning inside me wanting to move me into action strongly, almost irresistibly – again, almost. There is my resolution to keep within the confines of the experiment, and there is the wish to just give in; a flip-flop back and forth, a most tiresome experience.
So I wanted, and also escaped into all kinds of alleviating entertainments – looking up my friends blogs, playing around with new plugins, reading news, cleaning my desktop, etc. – I wanted, and at times managed to drift away into some daydreaming; I wanted, and even got quite some work done of what I needed to do. And then some 2, 3 hours later the desiring disappeared and I went into ordinary mode again; feeling slightly wounded, sighing, delving into my work again more lightly, feeling fine, enjoying it – the ordinary wavicles of emotion that are in the background of everything that goes on…

And now I’m a bit tired, and I want to – and will – watch Dr. House do his nasty healing work…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 2

Once there is the resolve to move in a certain direction out of a basic understanding that this is “the call of my destiny”, things are more easy, even if from another point of view they might be hard.

Last night I was reading about suffering from a Buddhist point of view – suffering’s nature, origin, cessation and the path leading to the cessation – and it occurred to me that the thinking behind this both in the East and the West. and certainly the search to free oneself from the suffering that is thought to be caused by desire and attachment, is maybe a bit mistaken – or at least I used to be.
Suffering seems at first sight to be a feeling, and it is uncomfortable – sometimes it is somehow uncomfortable and at other times almost unbearable; almost because if indeed it is unbearable I’d loose all consciousness or drop dead aor I’d stop bearing it immediately. But what I keep finding as I put some light on my uncomfortable feelings is that they are not at all what suffering is; it’s the stories I tell myself, and eventually others, about the causes or “reasons for being” of these feelings – suffering is a story, the feeling is… well, (most) uncomfortable.
The same goes for desire and attachment (both basically have the same ‘signature’, only the one seems to be more agentive than the other); when now I inspect my desires as they make their appearance in the field of my awareness – it is the story that I tell myself about the feeling: “This is a desire for that,” that turns the feeling into ‘desire’. Embracing what is called desire, and somewhat stripping away the need to do something about it, actually experiencing it like I would a piece of art that I do not necessarily understand, it turns out to be quite ok to have, it’s actually interesting to be with.
Now I don’t know if I would say the same thing if much stronger desires arise… if it happens within the next days that I conduct this experiment, I’ll report it here. Promise.

Another thing I’ve noticed yesterday night and today so far (when writing this) is the amazing amount of small irritations that dance their (mostly little) dance in many situations. And being irritated seems to not only be triggered by not getting what I want in those moments but by remarks, small gestures, almost ‘nothings’. And, it’s an interesting feeling, really. It seems to manifest bodily somewhere in the lower throat area and consist of little needly bubbles (hmm, I just made those words up to indicate something I’ve never tried to paint in words before).
An interesting aspect of this I’ve noticed in a team meeting around noon is that simply noticing and ‘yessing’ the basic irritation feeling it doesn’t play out in the conversation or discussion anymore. Patience, something I’ve cherished over the years being an impatient person – or so I thought -, patience isn’t needed at all because the irritation doesn’t cause anything, it doesn’t flow into behavior or words or even concepts. One could say it’s there as the waves on a lake, just rippling away…
In my morning’s contemplation my awareness drifted into close inspection and then embrace of one of my Top Seven (or so) uncomfortable feelings that has a major novel as accompanying story. 🙂 It’s name not being important enough to mention in this context here… (which is an amazing discovery in itself, as this experiemnt is about shedding light on the feelings in their very essence, not in how they play out as story in life; a story that is malleable whereas the feeling itself seems not to be so malleable, but simply very present.)
I circled it and found that when the feeling and I really touch I almost don’t breathe anymore. This feeling takes my breath away / I stop to breathe “spontaneously” when this feeling appears on the horizon. In the safe bounds of my morning’s contemplation I can embrace it, trace it’s signature in my body and mind, and can quite easily be with it. This is when I invoke a feeling…

… but when during dinner this evening I was confronted with enough trigger for my anger to appear and at the same time being basically powerless – I got angry, legitimately so my mind tells me, and at the same time knowing that I couldn’t do anything to change the situation (damn if I shout, damn if I don’t, damned if I run away etc.), powerless anger (“ohnm�chte Wut”, in German) – confronted with this… I had to leave the room, “and now embrace this!” I thought to myself.
Actually I didn’t – I was just about to say I couldn’t, but that’s not correct; the feeling became so powerful� very, very fast. So all I could do was leave the room and breathe very deeply a couple of times until it subsided enough so I could be with it – and still can be with the residues of the feeling.

Looking forward to continue this experiment, actually. A deep value seems to unfold in real time experience…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 1 (Exploring feelings)

After having looked at the videos I posted about yesterday I decided to do an experiment testing in practice what Michael Brown speaks about in those videos. I will blog about this experiment and practice here because it will help me keep it up and reflect upon it daily, and it might help some of the people who read these blogs.

Let me give you a bit of background:
In the recent very challenging time in my relationship I discovered – or better, uncovered – a constant pattern of behavior: Deeply opening up to – trusting – someone will lead to abuse sooner or later. This pattern comes from my very young years when my mother gave me away to my grandparents who then put me in a boarding school that then kicked me out… don’t want to relate the long sad story of what f****d me up emotionally in my young years, only want to indicate an important influence to the present experiment.

Another important one is that I actually have a very fine-grained ability to feel my emotions; 30 years of therapy and a spiritual path that has been very adventurous has ‘helped’ me discern many shades of, for instance, grief, fear and anger.
And also: Looking at my feelings has almost exclusively happened with the intention of either healing, overcoming or transcending, and even if I did embrace my feelings – as in the meditations I used to do some years ago in which I did “Satsang with my demons” – it was always with the intention of finally healing them.

And finally one more piece of background to my experiment:
In this recent crisis I’ve discovered – or actually uncovered – the indisputable fact that my emotions, the dynamics of my feelings, are out of control; I cannot determine what I feel in almost every situation. For many people, especially women, this is certainly no surprise, and maybe it shouldn’t be one for me, but it is. This is absolutely clear to me now because as part of the crisis – how it came about – was me expressibly allowing, out of my conviction, something that, when it became a reality, deeply hurt, unexpectedly so.

The premises of the experiment

Being unconditionally with what is right now – flowing with life – is of supreme value (it feeds the soul, not only mine but of everybody I’m with, it is joyful and beautiful, it is needed for true love to unfold, and the foundation for understanding any kind of meaningful truth).

Being unconditionally with what/how I feel is an integral, and necessary, part of flowing with life as an actual experience here and now.

What matters experientally has (at least) 3 facets/components: physical, mental and emotional. By physical I mean the person(s) I’m with or the situation I’m in as a physical presence that ’cause’ or ‘trigger’ (partly) what I experience; the mental is the story I tell myself and/or others about this, my interpretation; and finally what I feel actually – feelings being the prime movers and motivators for my actions and behaviors and words in any given situation.

Feelings/emotions are neither good nor bad in an ethical sense, yet there are feelings I greatly value and seek and those I shun, flee and or want to get rid of. Some of them are ‘good’ in one circumstance and ‘bad’ in another.

The premise to be tested in this experiment is that all feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, are potentially soul-food and enliven or quicken my present being-alive; they inspire in a most profound way by re-connecting me with the flow of life by intentional/willing/conscious participation. This is so as long as I am with these feelings unconditionally (not to heal, change, or in any way influence them).
An important aspect of feelings, maybe their raison d’etre, is to enliven my present state of being.

What this experiment has led to so far

Considering all this in one way or another I’ve identified a number of uncomfortable feelings that are an important part of the ‘melody of feelings’ that in some depth keep repeating themselves (at least when now I remember what goes on in general). I’ve identified 7 that seem to be basic and given them a label for easier identification. They are all situated in the lower breast and stomach area, 2 of them in the gut area.

Much of my behavior seems to be directed at influencing the situations I find myself in in such a way as to not ‘give reason’ for these feelings to come up, and if they come up to immediately avoid feeling them or if that’s unavoidable to diffuse them, throw some nebulae around them etc. If all of that doesn’t work I (like to) blame the other or situation for me having them, suggesting that if I could only change them/it everything would be alright again.

It also led me to, in my conversations – and at moments in other situations – keep an eye on the emotional melody playing. Since there were no overwhelming emotions it was easy to just be with them, ‘unconditionally’, dipping into their flow.

A very interesting effect: I haven’t been ‘reacting’ to what was communicated and could then much more easily respond to the content of what was said…

Design for next few days

In the morning after getting up spend 20 – 30 minutes with both contemplating my ‘feeling life’ and see if there are more primary uncomfortable feelings that need to be part of the Top Ten, and exploring the ones on the list already, that means:
* Remember situations that trigger  those feelings
* Unconditionally embrace the feeling
* Notice what comes up doing that (not pursuing it)

During the day keep an eye on the feelings, also scan for yet ‘unlisted primary feelings’.

Write about this in the evening.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Help comes from amazing places

Being with my feeling – or as Michael Brown whom you’ll hear from in this interview with Jordan Shafer, that I discovered after receiving an email from Gilles Asselin who spoke with high regard about his book The Presence Process – without condition everything I require in life comes… this is a most amazing inspiration at this moment in time as I’m going through a rough situation in my private life, where it is as if a can of ugly worms of feelings has been opened. Feelings I know very well, feelings that have been part of my life’s story for a long time already; actually a melody of feelings that I liked NOT to listen to 🙂

So here they are. Hope they’ll help you as well.

If you don’t want to make view all of them, here is the gist: “If I can feel my discomfort and allow myself to be with it without condition consistently I’ll receive what I require to bring resolution.”

And here is a jewel:
“Once someone enters the experience being without condition upon their uncomfortable (emotional) signatures that very experience becomes the teacher.”

(Addendum: I have since started my an expiriment “Enlightening the Passions” in which I take my feelings, emotions and experience as a teacher… and it has proven to be an amazing teacher indeed; the best I ever had.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)